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With a hangman's noose behind me, here I am. Monroe, Ohio, one long step closer to San Francisco, the iron was hot; it was time to strike.
The bunting draped on the porch of the Congress Hotel was beginning to fade; a sure sign that they had gathered up a whole bunch of eager young farm boys and were now looking for someone who could herd them, someone like me. If they were like most volunteer outfits, the higher officers would be local politicians and businessmen and the lower grades would be a bevy of young college men, all of them very loyal, sincere and incompetent. The placard tacked up at a crossroads spoke of the need for all gallant men aged 18 to 35 to strike a blow in the defense of the Union. Ruffin’s Rifles, they were called, otherwise they were known as the 57th Infantry Regiment of Ohio Volunteers. They were paying a hundred dollars to any healthy volunteer who signed up for a year of service. A veteran like me ought to be worth at least twice that much. The old sergeant’s shirt I’d paid half a dollar for was well worth the investment. The weather was on my side, there was no need for a coat that would cover the un-faded area that had been covered by the chevrons; my credentials as veteran were plain for all to see. The discharge form had cost me ten times as much, but with a little luck no one would ever see it. Now all I had to do was be bold.